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do we eat carnivores or scavengers?

alkapal Jan 12, 2009 12:08 AM

i know fish eat other fish (so the concept is there), but i'm at a loss to name carnivores or scavengers that we eat.

i went down the list: hogs, cows, sheep, chicken...nope. squirrels? nope. frogs? nope. horse? (ha, got you with that one! just checking if you're awake yet....) crow?!? (ha!) <been there, done that.>

please educate me!

  1. t
    tmso Jan 12, 2009 03:10 AM

    Pigs and boars are certainly scavengers; in addition to the plants in their diets, they eat insects, small animals and carrion. Bears are also omnivorous and tasty.

    Oh, and while horses are herbivores, they are also make for good eating, and can be found on the shelves of all the supermarkets and butchers in my neighborhood.

    1. c
      cresyd Jan 12, 2009 03:50 AM

      Alligator and snakes are eaten - though it's not the main source of meat in any diet I'm aware of. Oh, and dogs are eaten in various parts of the world.

      1 Reply
      1. re: cresyd
        Caralien Jan 12, 2009 10:29 AM

        alligator is yummy, but isn't it a predator, not a scavenger?

      2. Caroline1 Jan 12, 2009 03:51 AM

        I would say it depends on how you want to define "scavenger". If you mean eating opportunistically (good food is where you find it), then most animals would qualify, including humans. If you restrict the meaning to an animal that eats carrion, then you're narrowing the field, but circumstances can broaden it again.

        Eating worms, grubs, and bugs is not an herbivore activity, but just about all birds would be carnivores of sort. I think hummingbirds and a few other birds are excepted, but left to live with both feet on the ground, chickens are right up there! I suspect that cows, dedicated herbivores, likely eat a bug or two in their lifetimes that is clinging to the grasses they eat. Pigs? Bears and man are usually classed as omnivores, but I think pigs will give either a run for their money.

        My guess is the reason we don't find a lot of exclusively carnivorous animals in our diet is because it was a losing game trying to domesticate them. Much easier to eat what you hunt yourself than it is to feed your kill to an animal so that you can eventually kill and eat it. Besides, who want to domesticate an animal that thinks you're lunch?

        3 Replies
        1. re: Caroline1
          c
          cresyd Jan 12, 2009 03:56 AM

          While wild birds definitely go the bug route - birds that are raised for consumption (ducks, chickens, pigeons, etc) are rarely fed bugs. Goats are another animal left to their own devices will eat almost anything.

          1. re: cresyd
            Caroline1 Jan 12, 2009 04:15 AM

            You may have missed my implication: "[birds] left to live with both feet on the ground." Free range chickens scratch the ground looking for "edibles." Worms and grubs are not allowed to escape! But when raised in cages where they walk on wire all of their lives, no, they're not gonna get to eat worms.

            1. re: Caroline1
              c
              cresyd Jan 12, 2009 06:52 AM

              You're absolutely correct - it's just whenever I think of the "birds as scavengers" I usually think of pigeons first and how they are in large cities versus those raised for consumption.

        2. thew Jan 12, 2009 05:08 AM

          we don't raise them for consumption, but we do indeed eat them (as a species)

          bear. alligator. birds of varying types. fish. shark. seals. dog. pigs. snake. etc

          3 Replies
          1. re: thew
            f
            FlyFish Jan 12, 2009 07:06 AM

            Jared Diamond discusses the issues surrounding domestication of carnivores for food in Chapter 9 of his [somewhat famous] book "Guns, Germs, and Steel." The major problem, as Caroline1 alluded to earlier, is the inherent inefficiency of raising animals that are at least one trophic level above herbivores, along with the obvious practical difficulties in raising for food an animal that is thinking of you the same way. He also notes that most of the major herbivorous animals are also unsuitable for domestication for a variety of reasons, citing that of 148 species of wild herbivorous mammals only 14 are suited for domestication.

            1. re: FlyFish
              alkapal Jan 12, 2009 07:20 AM

              caroline and flyfish, thanks for those insights. the book sounds intriguing.... i liked this line: "....the obvious practical difficulties in raising for food an animal that is thinking of you the same way."

              your insights bring to mind why people (typically) don't eat cats, because cats HELP man by killing rodents that carry disease and eat stores of grain.

              1. re: FlyFish
                m
                mpjmph Jan 12, 2009 12:01 PM

                I'll second the recommendation for Guns, Germs, and Steel. It's a little dry, but if you have any interest at all in anthropology it's a good start. Lot's of good background for why we eat what we do.

            2. Richard 16 Jan 12, 2009 07:10 AM

              Shellfish in general, especially lobster.
              Catfish.

              And the big one: Pigs. As tmso note pigs are omnivores primarily, but will scavenge as well.

              1. alkapal Jan 12, 2009 08:46 AM

                i meant scavenge in the sense of eating carrion.

                1 Reply
                1. re: alkapal
                  Caralien Jan 12, 2009 10:39 AM

                  We talked about this after seeing a turkey buzzard/vulture this weekend. As with the national bird and hyenas, we don't typically eat (or hunt to eat) scavengers. I thought that the main reason is that humans may not be able to effectively digest decomposing food as well as scavengers, but then there's aged beef, dry cured meats, cheese...

                2. c
                  chilihead Jan 12, 2009 11:27 AM

                  Iguana. The only time I had it I saw its cousins hanging at the local dump in large numbers.

                  and you can get horse up in Quebec, just 45 minutes north of me, it's supposed to taste sweet.

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